Hollywood star bowls at Aqua Entertainment Center in Los Banos

Don Surdich, bowling columnist

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG Don Surdich, bowling columnist COLSIG Merced Sun-Star

Last Thursday evening the staff of the new bowling center in Los Banos, the Aqua Entertainment Center were blown away when movie star Billy Bob Thornton and his crew of 10 strolled into the center.

Thornton's wife hopped on Google to find out if there was a bowling center in Los Banos. She does it all the time they said. It seems that he loves to bowl and his band got to kick back a bit.

Eric Liu, C.E.O. and owner of Aqua said that some bowlers who were at the center did not recognize him right away, several did. Liu said that he was very friendly with the staff and bowlers who were there, and talked to everyone. He signed autographs for those who asked and took photos.

Thornton and his band were heading to the Bay Area for a gig and then on to Seattle to play. The crew stopped at Espanas Southwest Bar & Grill for dinner before going to the bowling center.

500 Club’s Scotch Doubles Handicap results

The Merced/Atwater Women's 500 Club had another successful tournament last Sunday afternoon at Bellevue Bowl. According to LaDonna Stone, tournament director said that a total of 24 double teams hit the lanes and rolled four games. The club paid down to five places in prize money. Coming in first place was the team of Edward Olivarez II and Steven Olivarez with a handicap score of 1,054 good for $81 each. In second place were Adrian Gonzales and Sherry Gonzales with a 1,031 for $72 each. Third place were Laura Saunders and Leticia Andrade with a 1,015 for $62 each. The fourth spot had Gene Blaine and April Hall rolling 1,007 winning $53 each. The final money winners were T.J. and Ed Rowen with a 987 for $44 each. Stone said that it was a great turnout for a summer mini tournament. Up next for the club will be their popular Behind the Curtain tournament.


Ernie Pinheiro 267, Adam Barden 708, Christina Whitcomb 197, Brian Hickman 266/711, Jesse Andrade 265/705, Joe McBride 220, Keith Docherty 233, Bryan Revas 256/691, Jamie Shank 244/602, Sharee Frazier 200, Jeremy Hill 213, Marie Herrera 200, Travis Mason 246/664, Brian Liebelt 246/609, Ester Plantillas 150, Sylvia Giordano, 210, Gary Wescott 215, Mike Danel 224, Ed Lyon 200, and Bill Reif 196.


As most of us know, California's BVL (Bowlers to Veterans Link) donations totaled $107,228.97 which again put us on top for contributors nationally. BVL plans on adding another division for the men. There will be six divisions for men, women and youth. The 2019 State BVL tournament will be held at one of the two centers in Stockton, or both.


We had a group of Merced County bowlers rolling at Black Oak Lanes monthly senior 9-pin no-tap last Friday. In the high game pot was T.J. Rowen. In the men's first high game was Bob Heller rolling a 280 for second place. In the third high game, Don Andrino finished with a 208 for first place.

In the overall series for the women, Nevora Nush took second place with a 790 series. The men's had Andrino taking fifth place with a 780. Snelling's Frank "Gray Board" Gasper was also bowling in the no-tap.

Coming up next for our local senior bowlers will be at McHenry Bowl on Friday, July 20 for their Senior Fun Day tournament. You never know what to expect from Terry and Theresa during the Fun Day tournament.

The actions starts at 1 p.m. with sign-ups at 12:30 p.m. The center has a pot luck lunch at noon. Entry fee is $16 which includes your high game and series for men and women. See ya there.

Don Surdich is a Sun-Star correspondent and can be reached at (209) 777-1111 or via e-mail at